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Kent whale: Sperm whale in the Swale still alive as BDMLR says death 'inevitable'

A huge sperm whale is still alive in the Swale - but experts put its chance of survival at just 1%.

The 50ft-long creature was first spotted near Whitstable yesterday afternoon, but has now moved to shallow waters near Harty Ferry, Faversham.

Video shows the whale breaking the water's surface and spraying water in the air. Credit: Elliott Howes

Medics from marine animal charity the British Divers' Marine Life Rescue are monitoring its movement and behaviour.

But the organisation says it is unlikely the creature will find its way back to deep waters.

Speaking this afternoon, BDMLR spokesman Julia Cable said: "It's still around - it is still alive. It's exactly where it was yesterday.

"There are sandbanks there so it could be trapped, but I think it mustn't have the strength to get past those."

The whale in the Swale. Picture: BDMLR (28081385)
The whale in the Swale. Picture: BDMLR (28081385)

Sadly, Ms Cable says the whale's death is now "inevitable".

"Sperm whales are extremely large and if they become stranded, there is very little we can do to help them," she said.

"They get up to about 20m. Sadly they're too big for us to actually move.

"A sperm whale comes in this close really because it's in a vulnerable state - poor health, malnourished - and there's nothing to change that.

"There's nothing for it to feed on here. It's just a waiting game."

The whale was first reported to the Coastguard yesterday morning by staff at The Bubble Cafe, which overlooks Whitstable seafront.

The whale being watched by a seal. Picture:Mike Gould
The whale being watched by a seal. Picture:Mike Gould

Assistant manager Charlotte Bambridge said: "He or she was quite close - sort of stuck in one position for quite a while.

"Then he moved slowly towards the harbour for about an hour, and he was spraying water in the air.

"Then he stopped right where the harbour looks out, about 200m in front, and stayed there for about 15 to 20 minutes.

"We were worried he might be stuck so we called the Coastguard, but then the tide came in and he drifted off towards the Isle of Sheppey."

Yesterday afternoon, the huge creature began swimming with the rising tide into The Swale - a tidal channel of the Thames estuary.

The whale off the coast of Whitstable. Picture: Mike Gould
The whale off the coast of Whitstable. Picture: Mike Gould

It has since been in the Harty Ferry area, near Faversham.

BDMLR volunteers are at Harty Ferry near Faversham (28091054)
BDMLR volunteers are at Harty Ferry near Faversham (28091054)

BDMLR volunteers have been closely monitoring the whale, with volunteers at the scene.

The organisation initially believed it to be a minke whale or possibly a humpback, but on inspection of photos taken by eyewitnesses, concluded it is a sperm whale.

Sperm whales are a deep water species not usually found around the UK.

They are easily recognized by their massive heads and prominent rounded foreheads, according to National Geographic.

The whales have the largest brain of any creature known to have lived on Earth.

Do you have pictures or video footage of the whale? Email whitstablegazette@thekmgroup.co.uk for the chance to see them featured online and in the newspaper.

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable

Read more: All the latest news from Faversham

Read more: All the latest news from Sheerness


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